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MALTA: Reach for STAR

The March 1 deadline to submit an application for the state School Tax Relief Program (STAR) is coming up quickly, but many Malta residents who may qualify still have not sent in the necessary application, according to the town's assessor.

There are about 300 residents who may qualify and are not signed up, said Sue Otis, assessor for the town.

The STAR program includes a tax rebate program and a partial property tax exemption from school taxes. The program is only applicable to school district taxes and has no bearing on state, county or local taxes. Residents are eligible for this program on their primary residence if they own and live in their home. Otis said many residents pay little attention to the STAR program because they incorrectly believe they do not qualify based on income or age.

"You do not have to be 65. You don't have to be of an income level," said Otis.

She said the Basic STAR exemption takes the first $30,000 off the full value assessment of the home. Regardless of age or income, this program is available for the primary residences of owner-occupied homes.

Residents older than 65 who do not exceed a statewide standard annual household income level can qualify for the Enhanced STAR program. Otis said qualifying seniors would see the first $54,000 exempted from the full value assessment.

"When properties change hands, we send out a packet of information to them," said Otis. The packet includes the application. Residents are encouraged to contact Otis' office with questions or to schedule an appointment.

Otis noted that she and her office staff will schedule appointments at her office outside of traditional business hours if residents need that convenience. Additionally, Otis said, residents with transportation issues should contact the office to make arrangements for the staff to "go to them."

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